FK506 attenuates developing and established joint inflammation and suppresses interleukin 6 and nitric oxide expression in bacterial cell wall induced polyarthritis

John W. Fuseler, Michelene Hearth-Holmes, Matthew B. Grisham, David Kang, F. Stephen Laroux, Robert E. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective. To determine the efficacy of therapeutic administration of FK506 (Tacrolimus) in suppressing developing and established joint inflammation, proinflammatory cytokine expression, and nitric oxide (NO) production in peptidoglycan-polysaccharide (PG/PS) induced experimental polyarthritis in rats. Methods. Chronic joint inflammation was induced by intraperitoneal injection of PG/PS, and joint inflammation was quantified using arthritis index and paw volume. Serum and joint levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) were measured by bioassay and Western blot analysis respectively, and serum levels of NO production were determined by the Griess procedure and the expression of the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (i-NOS) in the joints was determined by Western blot analysis. Results. Arthritis induced by PG/PS is biphasic, progressing through an initial acute phase and a remission phase, which is followed by a persistent chronic phase. Daily administration of FK506 initiated during the remission phase significantly attenuated the onset and development of chronic joint inflammation. We observed a significant reduction in joint inflammation and swelling, an apparent suppression of pannus development, and minimal erosive damage to the articular cartilage and subchondral bone. Fully established chronic joint inflammation was also ameliorated by daily administration of FK506. Joint swelling and inflammation was significantly reduced by 5 days posttreatment with FK506 and the erosive activity associated with the pannus appeared diminished. The elevated expression of IL-6 and NO characteristic of chronic joint inflammation in the serum and in joint tissue was significantly reduced by FK506 treatment. Conclusion. Therapeutic administration of FK506 has a profound antiinflammatory effect on the development of the chronic, erosive arthritis induced by PG/PS. This attenuation in joint inflammation was associated with suppression of IL-6 and NO production systemically and locally in the joints. Our data suggest that FK506 may be effective in the treatment of chronic joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental arthritis
  • FK506 (tacrolimus)
  • Interleukin 6
  • Nitric oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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